The Best Sales Skill: Creating the Emotional Connection

by Brandon Steiner March 04, 2013 0 Comments

As I’ve said many times, I love selling. And I love talking about it.

Most recently I talked about closing – how closing a sale amounts to helping the customer go where they already want to go. But I’m not gonna lie and say there aren’t times when you have to flat out sell someone.

I’m talking about turning a “no” into a “yes.”

Like closing, you’re still steering instead of pushing. But you have to tap into some deeper feelings.

You have to remember that conviction sells, but emotion buys.

I think this particular art of selling has been lost. With all the impersonal ways of reaching out nowadays - email, text, facebook, twitter, etc. - we think we're really connecting with people. But you can't just throw stuff out there and hope it sticks with your customers.

In order to really sell - to turn a no into a yes - you can't just connect. You have to make an emotional connection with the customer. That's the single best sales skill you can have. (It's kind of like the silent scissors.)

I love it when one of my sales guys asks me to help turn around someone on the phone, or in our store, because I get to practice that skill.

For instance, let’s say a guy’s considering buying a Derek Jeter-signed ball, for $500. But he’s saying, “I really can’t spend that much on a baseball.”

So I’d try to show him that it’s not just a baseball.

“You’re buying this ball for your son, right?” I’d ask.


“How much money do you think you’re going to spend on your son from the time he was 2 to when he’s 20? Between the food, clothing, tuition, Little League, SAT tutoring, sleepaway camp, guitar lessons, etc.?”

Now, I’m not pretending $500 is a drop in the bucket compared to all those other costs. It’s still a lot of money, let alone for a baseball. But I’d ask him something.

“What do you think your son is going to remember? That you fed him dinner every night for two decades? That you clothed him? Or that one night when you came home and surprised him with a ball signed by his favorite player?”

I could up the ante. “Is he gonna say you’re the greatest dad in the world because you put a roof over his head, and bought all his textbooks? Or because you bought him the Jeter ball he’s going to keep displayed in his room for years and years?”

Now it’s not just a baseball. It’s a memory he can share with his son. It’s an emotion.

Maybe the man still won’t buy the thing, but it’s going to be a lot harder to get that “no” out.

And that’s what the “hard sell” is really all about. It’s less about getting them to say “yes” than it is making it hard for them to say “no.”

This is the way I got into Syracuse for college. I didn’t have any grades (my school was pass/fail) and my SATs were a less than shining 760. But I looked the admissions lady who interviewed me dead in the eye and I told her:

“I may not have the best scores, but I’ve been working to help support my family since I was 13. I work hard at everything I do. I was treasurer of my high school, and I contributed countless other ways. And I promise you that if you admit me here, I’m going to squeeze every last drop of opportunity and learning out of this campus. You won’t regret it.”

It would be hard to say “no” to that, right? And fortunately for me, she didn’t!

What about you?

When you’re selling, are you able to tap into an emotional connection?

Brandon Steiner
Brandon Steiner


Brandon Steiner is the founder and chairman of Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia, the largest company of its kind in America. Considered a sports marketing guru, Brandon is a permanent fixture in the media as a regular on ESPN NY Radio 98.7 FM and as host of "The Hook-Up with Brandon Steiner" on YES Network. He has appeared frequently on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, and in newspapers including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The author of The Business Playbook: Leadership Lessons from the World of Sports and You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid from Brooklyn Started From Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire, Brandon lives in Scarsdale, New York, with his wife, Mara and children Crosby and Nicole.

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